Groucho Marx

American comedian (1890–1977)

Julius Henry Marx (2 October 189019 August 1977), known as Groucho Marx, was an American comedian and actor known as a member of the Marx Brothers comedy act and for his solo film and television career.

I think it's about time to announce that I was born at a very early age.


I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.
I get credit all the time for things I never said.
  • Although it is generally known, I think it's about time to announce that I was born at a very early age.
    • From his autobiography Groucho and Me (1959)
  • No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend.
    • From his book Groucho and Me. It is a variation of a maxim by 17th-century French nobleman François de La Rochefoucauld: "In the adversity of our best friends, we often find something that is not displeasing." (Maxim 99 from Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims, 1665 edition.)
  • Here's to our wives and girlfriends... may they never meet![citation needed] (Variation on an old Royal Navy wardroom toast: "Wives and Sweethearts! May they never meet!"[citation needed])
  • From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.
    • To S. J. Perelman about his book Dawn Ginsbergh’s Revenge (1929), as quoted in LIFE (9 February 1962)
  • I got $25 from Reader's Digest last week for something I never said. I get credit all the time for things I never said. You know that line in You Bet Your Life? The guy says he has seventeen kids and I say: "I smoke a cigar, but I take it out of my mouth occasionally"? I never said that.
  • I like pancakes, but I haven't got a closet full of them!
    • Groucho's actual response during one of You Bet Your Life episodes referred to in the above quote.
  • I did a bond tour during the Second World War... We were raising money, and we played Boston and Philadelphia and most of the big cities. And we got to Minneapolis. There wasn't any big theater to play there, so we did our show in a railroad station. Then I told the audience that I knew a girl in Minneapolis. She was also known in St.Paul, she used to come over to visit me. She was known as "The Tail Of Two Cities." I didn't sell any more bonds, but eh... they didn't allow me to appear anymore.
  • My experience is that people are most likely to listen to reason when in bed.
    • Liner notes of An Evening With Groucho (1972) the recording of his appearance at Carnegie Hall.
  • Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don't anymore. I realized it was killing conversation. When you're always trying for a topper you aren't really listening. It ruins communication.
  • I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.
    • As quoted in Halliwell’s Filmgoer’s Companion (1984) by Leslie Halliwell
  • To write an autobiography of Groucho Marx would be as asinine as to read an autobiography of Groucho Marx.
    • Just after completing his second autobiography, as quoted in The Marx Brothers: A Bio-bibliography (1987) by Wes D. Gehring, p. 137


  • I don't have a photograph. I'd give you my footprints, but they're upstairs in my socks.
  • I've been around so long, I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.
    • Apparently said by Oscar Levant: "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin" (as quoted in The Wit and Wisdom of Hollywood (1972) by Max Wilk).
  • Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
    • No known citation to Marx. First appears unattributed in mid-1960s logic/computing texts as an example of the difficulty of machine parsing of ambiguous statements.  Google Books.  The Yale Book of Quotations (2006) dates the attribution to Marx to a 9 July 1982 net.jokes post on Usenet, although it has not been possible to locate a matching post in the Google Groups archives.
  • Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.
    • Variant: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.[1]
    • Apparently attributed to Marx in Bennett Cerf's Try and Stop Me, first published in 1944.  A citation of this can been seen in the Kentucky New Era on November 9, 1964.  Also attributed to Marx by Rand Paul in "The Long Stand," ch. 1 of Taking a Stand: Moving Beyond Partisan Politics to Unite America (New York, N. Y.: Center Street, 26 May 2015), p. 5.
    • The original quotation belongs to Sir Ernest Benn (Henry Powell Spring, What is Truth?, Orange Press, 1944, p. 31); a first known citation reportedly appears in the Springfield (MA) Republican on July 27, 1930.

Quotes about Marx

  • Some years back, after a childhood of preoccupation with comedy that led me to observing the styles of all the great comedians, I came to the conclusion that Groucho Marx was the best comedian this country ever produced. Now I am more convinced than ever that I was right. I can't think of a comedian who combined a totally original physical conception that was hilarious with a matchless verbal delivery. I believe there is a natural inborn greatness in Groucho that defies close analysis as it does with any genuine artist. He is simply unique in the same way that Picasso or Stravinsky are, and I believe his outrageous unsentimental disregard for order will be equally as funny a thousand years from now.
    In addition to all this, he makes me laugh.
    • Woody Allen on the liner notes of An Evening With Groucho (1972)
  • I admit it's not original, Mr. Marx. It's a line you used in Horse Feathers, which I assumed you ad-libbed. You didn't get a laugh with it either.
  • Groucho appeals on so many levels at once that you could go nuts trying to figure out whether it's the funny movement, the incomparable tone of voice, what he is saying, or that keenly witty face that hits you the hardest. I swear that if he never existed, we would sense a lack in the world of comedy, like that planet in the solar system that astronomers say Ought to be there.
    For me he is The Master.
    • Dick Cavett on the liner notes of An Evening With Groucho (1972)
  • Groucho Marx is the only actor I ever allowed to ad-lib in a show I wrote. That was because I couldn't stop him.
  • George Kaufman and I wrote a lot of funny lines for Groucho, some of which he occasionally used... but it was Groucho who by his innate sense of timing and his inimitable delivery, added the ingredient that brought the house down.

See also



  1. Gyles Brandreth, Word Play: A cornucopia of puns, anagrams and other contortions and curiosities of the English language, Coronet, 2015.
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: